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UEA is recognised for sustainability

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Two sustainability initiatives by the University of East Anglia (UEA) were recognised at the annual Green Gown Awards, for the UK’s higher and further education sectors, on 10 November.

UEA’s Chemistry and Pharmacy Teaching Laboratory won the Research and Development (Institution) award for their StarFin project, while the Enterprise Centre was highly commended in the Built Environment category.

The winning team demonstrated the huge potential to save water and energy in laboratories by combining an energy-saving chemistry workstation with a waterless super air condenser to create a new type of unit - the StarFin - which uses 40% less energy and eliminates the need for water, saving up to 600 litres per hour.

Matthew Bennett, Senior Lab Technician in the School of Chemistry and Pharmacy Teaching Laboratory, designed the unit. “It’s a great achievement, and I’m very happy that the StarFin project has received this national award,” he said. “To be a finalist in such an impressive line-up, let alone to win, was a brilliant commendation for everyone who has worked on and supported this lab innovation project.

“Radleys, the manufacturer, played a key role in providing equipment and feedback, and integration into practical sessions would not have been possible without the support of academic and technical staff across the Faculty of Science. I’m looking forward to continuing to work with colleagues to develop more sustainable laboratory initiatives.”

Prof Simon Lancaster, Director of Learning and Teaching for Chemistry, added: “Our students have begun their careers with the perfect balance between education, sustainability and safety. The sense that sustainability is an economic as well as a social imperative will be invaluable.”

UEA’s Vice-Chancellor, Prof David Richardson, commented: “Laboratories can be heavy consumers of energy, but they’re also hugely innovative places. They are where learning, education and research take place, so it feels to me like they should also be places that endeavour to embrace new developments in technologies that help laboratories to be more sustainable.”

UEA’s Enterprise Centre, one of the UK’s most sustainable buildings, was also highly commended at the event. Already a winner of 18 national and international awards, it’s a pioneering project, achieving both Passivhaus certification and BREEAM Outstanding, two of the most rigorous sustainable built environment standards. The predicted CO2 emissions over a 100-year life cycle are just 20–25% of those of other university buildings with a similar size and usage.